We're all getting riled up for playoffs and every now and then I still see people whining about the physical style that is hockey. This is hockey people. Hockey players get hurt, it's an outcome a physical game brings. This isn't a new growing problem, checking has been there since the beginning.
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NHL teams made a mistake when they figured they no longer need tough guys on the ice. This is where it went wrong, and teams like Toronto and Buffalo lack grit right now. After the lockout teams thought grit wasn't necessary any longer; then Anaheim won the cup. Since Anaheim's victory the trend of bringing back size and grit has continued. All you need to do is look at the Oilers and there pathetic attempt of playing hockey last season. Injuries have plagued this team for a couple seasons, Stortini was an addition that came too late.
The real dirty players such as Boogard and Tootoo are most certainly head hunters, and yet we don't hear about incidents involving them...because there out here in the west. We see many hits in the league, the ones brought up negatively are usually the ones that occur in the east. The two that were blown out of proportion was one involving Drury and the Sabres, they were in 1st place. So of course we're gonna hear about it. The second that is being talked about reguards Kaberle with Toronto. They have a fan base bigger then any NHL team. So we have to hear about this hit as well. Understand that just about every broacast station is based in Toronto. TSN, Rogers Sportsnet, CBC etc.
They can cry about their teams but from day one, we are taught to keep our heads up, it's a huge part of the game. If anyone has played hockey, after 12 years of age, keeping your head up is one of the first things you learn. Last I checked, the NHL is a man's game who have gone through this learning process years ago. It's up to one self to protect one self, yourself is your liability. Some hits are late, but they aren't late when it's within the count of 3 STEAMBOATS. That is usually the general rule. Secondly, we are also told to finish our hit. You never skate at a guy and then, when he moves the puck, do a figure 8 around him. You finish it with the hit you intended to deliver. We do this because it sends a message that you don't have much time to handle the puck out there.
The game is fast, then the media slows it down to fractions of a second and then they make judgements. The hit on Drury involved a skilled player and a checker. A checker's job is to play against talent and shut it down, they make a check (hence the name checking line!). Niel did his job, Drury had his head down when it should have been up. It was clean, it only looked bad because Drury failed to protect himself. He learned the hard way, and he should have learned this back when he was 12.
The game has been played like this for decades, we've improved it with better equipment and more strict rules and the game has taken a softer approach over the years. Anyone remember Boston going over the boards and fighting fans right in their seats? Or Maurice Richard punching out a ref? No, because it was long ago. We will never see these actions ever again. There use to be bloody team brawls, coaches throwing sticks at refs, Roenick throwing water bottles at refs, fans falling into penalty boxes, Hextall breaking sticks. This wasn't long ago, and we don't see this anymore. So don't tell me the game hasn't toned down violence over the years.
For some reason we think Americans like the game with less violence. Wrong, Americans love violence, and every Canadians loves the physical part of the game as well. Last season the meeting between Buffalo and Ottawa was the most hyped game of the year. CBC chose to view Toronto vs Philadelphia instead. Two teams that didn't even make playoffs. It's this Toronto loving attitude that ruins the game here in Canada.
Checking will never be eliminated. That is the only way you can take out hits to the head. It's a fast game, there is size difference and heads down. The NHL can only go so far. They made helmets mandatory, no elbows, no high sticks, there is no charging, there is no boarding. What more can you do?
So suck it up, or go watch figure skating if you don't like it.
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